ARE YOU LOOKING AFTER YOUR STAFF?
Your staff are what makes your company tick so how can you make sure you’re looking after them properly?
Give staff a sense of purpose
While it may be slightly easier for small businesses to foster strong employee relationships, it still requires effort, says David Ingram, managing director of digital marketing agency Bring Digital.
He says: “No one wants to stagnate in a role. Provide training between departments or the opportunity to learn new skills at conferences, as this will encourage interaction between all levels of staff.
“Keep things fresh by offering them new tasks and responsibilities, perhaps with a mentor to help them along the way. This gives them a renewed sense of purpose in the workplace, and will help them feel better about the role that they are in.”
Abandon false formality
Howard Lewis is the founder and director of technology-free networking experience, Offline, which encourages individuals to form meaningful relationships through generosity of spirit.
He says: “Remove the false formality that reinforces hierarchies. Trust and confidence are the key ingredients to building great relationships. Eat together. Personalise communication. A handwritten note to colleagues can mean so much, even if they can't actually read your writing.”
People work best when they understand why they are doing what they are doing, says Simon Monaghan, SME consultant with national network Business Doctors.
“Good communication builds a team ethic and plays an important role in making staff feel they have joint ownership. Openness about business performance goes a long way towards engaging staff in both good times and bad. Simple ideas like performance charts on the wall can make everyone feel part of the solution rather than part of the problem.”
Keep the small-team spirit
Jeffs Thomas Jeffs, founder of IT support company Lucidica, says it’s important to keep the small-team spirit when you grow. “We have a bigger melting pot of personalities than we did a few years ago and we have had to continually adapt.”
Lucidica has a range of initiatives to help employee relationships. Its buddy system pairs random staff up for the quarter and offers them a small budget to go and do something together once a month and feed back on what they’ve learnt about each other. In addition, a dedicated “fun manager” arranges events and trips, and a weekly full-team meeting gets everyone talking together.
Go the extra mile
It can be pretty easy to throw money at your staff (if you have it) but, says Barnaby Lashbrooke, founder of virtual assistant platform, Time etc: “It's really easy to buy your employees treats to keep them motivated but it could be even better received if you went the extra mile delivering it.
“Last summer, instead of buying a load of ice creams, shoving them in the freezer and then sending round an email to the team as usual, I bought the very best ice cream I could find and loads of sauces, sprinkles, and sweets.
“I then went round to each person’s desk, took their order, and made them up. It gave me a fantastic and rare opportunity to connect with everyone in my business individually and find out how they were, and we all had fun too."